Ford F-Series Engine Block Heater Fires Lead to Massive Recall

December 21, 2018 by Alan Adler, @AlanAdler

Ford Motor Co. is recalling hundreds of thousands of F-Series and Super Duty pickup trucks equipped with engine block heaters that can catch fire, the automaker said Friday.

Three fires and one incident of property damage have been reported, but no one has been injured, Ford said.

A safety risk exists only while the vehicle is parked and the block heater cable is plugged into an electrical outlet, Ford said. Customers are advised against using their engine block heaters until they have been inspected, a spokeswoman told Trucks.com.

The F-Series full-size pickup has been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for 41 consecutive years. Through November, Ford had sold 821,558 F-Series. just ahead of the 806,879 sold in the first 11 months of 2017.

The recall covers 874,000 trucks in North America including F-150 models from 2015 to 2019 and Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 models from 2017 to 2019. Slightly less than half of the trucks are in the U.S.

Water and contaminants can get into the block heater cable’s splice connector. That can cause corrosion and damage to the cable over time, making the engine block heater inoperable. It also can trip household breakers or ground fault circuit breakers while the truck is parked and the block heater is plugged in.

The affected vehicles are 2015-19 F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Truck Plant from March 18, 2014, to Nov. 17, 2018; at Kansas City Assembly Plant from Aug. 21, 2014, to Nov. 17, 2018; 2017-19 Super Duty vehicles built at Ohio Assembly Plant from Feb. 5, 2016, to Nov. 17, 2018; and at the Kentucky Truck Plant from Oct. 8, 2015, to Nov. 17, 2018.

Dealers will inspect and replace the engine block heater cable if it is damaged or corroded. If there are no signs of damage or corrosion, dealers will apply dielectric grease to the splice connector and reconnect it.

The Ford reference number for the recall is 18S45. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall number is 18V894. Customers will be notified Jan. 7-11, 2019.

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